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Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC)





Large Magellanic Cloud
One of the two Magellanic Clouds – dwarf irregular galaxies – visible in the southern hemisphere, that orbit the Milky Way Galaxy; it spans 8° of the sky in Dorado and Mensa. The LMC is about 20,000 light-years in diameter, has a visible mass of about one-tenth that of our own galaxy, and, at a distance of some 180,000 light-years, was long considered to be the nearest external galaxy before losing that distinction to the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical. It displays a noticeable bar of stars, some of which, including S Doradus, are extremely luminous; from the ends of the bar project a weak spiral structure.

The LMC is rich in a variety of diffuse nebulae, including the spectacular Tarantula Nebula, planetary nebulae, open clusters, globular clusters, and so-called blue populous clusters, which resemble compact, young globulars and are of a type unseen in our own galaxy. An absence of intermediate-age clusters suggests that the LMC has experienced early and late bursts of star formation. The LMC was also the site of supernova 1987A – the nearest observed supernova since that recorded by Kepler.


apparent magnitude 0.1
angular size 650' × 550'
distance 179,000 light-years
position Dec. -69° 45';
R.A. 5h 23.6m


Related category

   • GALAXIES